Height of raised bed/fencing to keep out squirrels?

writtenonwater(N. VA 7a)March 25, 2014

I'm interested in building a raised bed like this one:

The raised bed is 20 inches tall, and the surrounding fencing is 12 inches tall. Do you think this combination of a high bed and minimal fencing will keep out the squirrels? I was playing with the idea of building the raised bed 24 inches tall, and using 18 inch tall fencing, but I'm not sure if even this is enough.

Thank you very much in advance!

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No, not unless you fence over the top.

Squirrels climb anything.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 3:58PM
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writtenonwater(N. VA 7a)

Currently, I have a 4 foot fence that the squirrels have never crawled over, so I was hoping the side of the raised bed would be slippery enough to deter squirrels...

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 4:55PM
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If a squirrel wanted to climb a 4 foot fence it would, the squirrels may just not be interested. Those who have bird feeders know that even a slick pole to set a feeder on has to be 6-8 plus feet tall and away from any trees they can drop down from.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 5:11PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

For the cost of buying or building that small bed you could have a much bigger garden with real fencing.

IME nothing deters squirrels unless it has a top on it. I have watched them climb anything - you have been lucky if they haven't climbed yours - and if they can't climb it for some reason they will climb anything nearby and launch themselves into it.

That small box, if you choose to build it would be easy to lay chicken wire fencing out on top of it.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 5:17PM
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writtenonwater(N. VA 7a)

I agree in principle but unfortunately I don't have a lot of space in the sun, so I'm hoping the deeper beds increase yield, and our HOA doesn't allow fences so I'm trying to think of a workaround...

Other suggestions are welcome!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 5:29PM
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Are you already having issues with squirrels in your garden? Or are you just assuming that you will?

I have woods on two side of my property, and have a number of trees that house squirrels in my yard. I have never had any squirrel damage to my vegetable garden.

I have deep raised bed for most things, but no fencing at all. The deep raised beds to help with rabbits - they don't seem to be aggressive enough to jump up into the beds.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 7:23PM
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I haven't had any squirrel trouble in the past but my daughter says they get her tomatoes as soon as they turn red. Apparently just for sport. I thought she might put up a corn feeder as a distraction. Or possibly grow green stripeys.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 7:34PM
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I second digdirts roof suggestion (see my thread about small blocks of corn elsewhere in this forum) Several years ago I had significant problems with squirrels climbing over a 7' fence to eat tomatoes and strawberries. My solution was to stretch a plastic deer fence "roof" over my beds. End of problem for me, and now I just plan to add a roof whenever I add a new bed.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 8:55PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

In my experience squirrels do the least damage in vegetable garden than rodents, rats, mice, rabbit, vole , moles etc.
Once in a while they might dig a small hole and make a mess. They are mostly nuts, grains and acorn eaters and are not vegetarians.

Anyway, as already been mentioned, short of a complete enclosure you cannot deter squirrels. They can climb, jump, chew, dig ... if they want to.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 2:28AM
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writtenonwater(N. VA 7a)

Thank you for all the responses! I didn't realize the reason for my prior success was that squirrels might not be interested in the garden in the first place.

This does raise another question though - Is the design I proposed enough to keep out the rabbits?

Mandolls - I'm especially curious how tall your raised bed is, that you haven't had to put up any fencing at all.

Thank you all!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:39AM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

In the heat of the summer, squirrels go after tomatoes, presumably to get liquid. I've seen them go after melons and cukes as well. Anything moist. I've never tried putting out a tub of water. Maybe that would deter them. But tomatoes taste better than water!

As to keeping them out, I agree that they will get over or under anything you put there. If there is a hole, they'll get through it.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:51PM
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Squirrels will certainly eat vegetables. I find they're particularly fond of squash.

But rabbits are certainly a worse problem.

I think that box would keep rabbits out.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 4:41PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Two feet + metal fence ( If buried about 6" deep, will keep rabbits out. Once I used plastic fence and they chewed it and got in

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:43PM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

You can make a nice wood frame to fit over the top of the box sides, like a removable roof with hooks to hold it down. Since the sides aren't that high, your vegetables will be crowding up against the roof...so don't use chicken wire as the mesh since squirrels will reach right through the 1-1.5" openings. Use hardware cloth or aviary wire (both have 1/2" openings). And if you're thinking about trying plastic mesh, know that squirrels will chew right through it if they really want what's inside.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 3:45AM
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But note that the smaller the openings, such as hardware cloth, the more light will be shaded out. In a full sun location that might be acceptable, when I considered a hardware cloth roof to the veggie garden which was already part shaded, I decided not to do it.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 6:51AM
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HonoriaLucasta(5 - Kansas City)

I'm sure this is all regional, but I have had exactly the opposite experience of seysonn here in suburban Kansas City. They don't bother most of my plants and I've never had a problem with them digging, but squirrels are BY FAR the biggest issue for tomatoes; ours will happily take a bite out of literally every last green tomato on the vine. They don't even wait until they are red. In my last house/garden the only way to keep them out was to build a tall structure of chicken wire to keep the tomatoes completely enclosed. They would chew through anything plastic in a heartbeat and pepper sprays did not deter them in the slightest. Me sitting in the backyard throwing rocks at them did not deter them in the slightest, either.

In my current garden (where I also have a lot of rabbits, who don't care about tomato plants but love greens), I've got a two-foot fence with an electric wire on the outside so that the squirrels and rabbits can't easily jump over it/climb the fence without touching the wire; it's year 3 now and that's done the trick so far. I couldn't have done that in my last garden because there were too many trees they could drop down from, but this one is more open.

A note - the squirrels didn't notice my tomato garden in my last yard the first year I had it completely unfenced. Had a great harvest that year. The second year they caught on and it was open warfare after that.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:28AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I never have had serious problem with squirrels, othe than doing some digging now and then. But the rabbits made every efforts to get into my fences garden, though it was in 3 acres of land with lots of greenery everywhere.

Rabbits pick and choose, depending on what is available. So why eat clover when there are tasty carrots. lol

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:03AM
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Why nobody mentions a hot wire around the garden? Perhaps smeared with peanut butter initially so that they know what is going on. Squirrels will be distracted by water and corn, but while they find corn right away, it takes them a while to become acquainted with a new water source. So if you want to try water, put it somewhere far from the garden, keep it clean, and be patient.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:02AM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

Intrigued by the idea of light loss through hardware cloth and mesh roof covers, I pulled out my Lux meter and did some measuring.

1/2" hardware cloth...light level dropped by 9000 lux (74000 to 65000) about 12%.

1/2 aviary wire...light level dropped by 7000 lux about 9%

1" stucco wire (high quality chicken wire)...light level dropped by 6000 lux, about 8%

3 small leaves blocking part of the sunlight...light level dropped by 40%

This is not very scientific but at least gives an idea. I did the measurement in late afternoon California sun, direct sun reading was 70-80,000 lux.

Does losing 8-12% of the light make a difference on a bright sunny day? I'd guess not, especially since the surrounding plants and leaves probably have a much greater effect. In a marginal situation, perhaps. But consider that as the sun travels across the sky, there will always be rays of light that pass through the mesh unhindered.

For squirrels, racoons, and the like, I agree that an electric wire seems to be the best solution. I have so many containers with plants that it would be hard to do, but I'm planning on putting electric wiring around individual fruit trees.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:30PM
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A home owner association that doesn't allow fences what! that is just complete poppy cock. That's like asking people to look at you every time you come out on your back porch and have no privacy that's just crazy!

Here is a link that might be useful: TheItalian Garden

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:09PM
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If I had a rabbit problem I'd think about trapping them and having them in a stew.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:50PM
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Funny, I have the opposite squirrel problem. They keep planting pecans in my beds! I do a lot of companion planting with herbs which tends to keep most large animals away (deer, dogs, cats).

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 4:05PM
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Over here in Wisconsin we run into rabbits all the time and I have had trouble finding a fence that is visually appealing, maintenance free, easy to install, and affordable. A few years ago we decided to create 17 raised beds each 6" tall in our garden, and the original idea was to place chicken wire directly around each raised bed, but based on past experience I knew that having the fencing so close to the garden area makes working in the garden difficult and inefficient. Based on this I decided to enclose the entire garden area with a rabbit fence, leaving a 24â walkway between the beds and the fence allowing for greater mobility when working in the garden.

I did some research to try to find a fence that would fit into the visual aesthetic of our garden, and chicken wire was just too unsightly. Picket fences are visually appealing, but I was turned off by the substantial maintenance season after season. I decided to create my own fence that provided the qualities I was looking for: attractive, maintenance free, lightweight, easy to install and affordable. After doing much research I decided to use copper tubing (to avoid rusting and to match other lawn decorations). I also used polypropylene mesh netting that was designed for rabbit fencing. I created 30 panels that were of two different sizes (4âÂÂx2â or 2âÂÂx2âÂÂ). Creating these panels did not take too long and cost much less than what I had anticipated. From there I used rebar poles to easily install the panels around the garden, including the creation of a swing-gate that made accessing the garden easy! Installing the fence took me an afternoon and that included the trial and error of determining the best way to do it.

Because the fence has exceeded all my expectations, I want to share it with others! I have decided to make and sell the fence panels. Below is a link to the website I have created, and I would love to answer any questions you may have!

Here is a link that might be useful: Preassembled Rabbit Garden Fence

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:55PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

Squirrels jump, fling themselves, and scramble over just about anything. If they want it, they won't stop trying to get it. They'll go after anything moist (tomatoes, melons, eggplants, cukes, squash). Unless you totally enclose your garden (being careful that they can't easily burrow in) you're sunk. Sorry, been there, done all that. I'm now trapping and relocating, and my squirrel problems are gone.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:42PM
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Don't forget under and through (except for metal). They love fruit - lost almost all my strawberries to them this year, now they're working on the raspberries. I think the only solution is to enclose all fruit on all sides with chicken wire. Trapping doesn't work when you've got 100's of acres of woods around you.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 6:56PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

Yes, I'm in an urban environment. I was awash with squirrels a few months ago, and now, a dozen relocations later, I haven't seen a single one in a week. They laid waste to my garden last year. This year, hardly a touch. Now, I have resident possums and raccoons, and even an occasional rat, but they don't touch my garden, and I don't touch them. The squirrels? Horrendous.

But just because you're surrounded by woods doesn't necessarily mean that relocating won't work. They are quite territorial, and I think they don't disperse that quickly. You might be surprised.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:17PM
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How many did you have to relocate? DH relocated 4 to a place they wouldn't come back from, seemed to work for a week or so but then they (or the chipmunks) ignored the peanut butter and came back and finished off the strawberries. Now something's eating the raspberries right off the cores, I draped row cover over the trellis in case it was turkeys pecking at them but no something is going right under the cover and nibbling at the berries.

I know we relocated a squirrel many years ago from attic of our old house thought a few miles would be good enough, across highway but she had babies and kept coming back until 1 day she didn't (and that's when we found out there was a nest with babies right above our bed).

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:50PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

Over the course of a month, I relocated 12! After the first eight, I said "whew, that's a lot", and was pleased that I didn't see any more. For a week. Then in ONE DAY I caught four of them. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. One every hour or two. I think those four arrived in a group. It has now been more than a week and I haven't seen a single one. (I used to see two or three at a time!) A bit spooky. My local raptors are still happy. They weren't doing their job with the squirrels anyway.

Our local fox squirrels have babies in February or March, and the kids are kicked out by May. So humanely, June and July are the months to trap and relocate. Later in the summer, you're making them leave behind winter food stashes. I have no illusions about guaranteed survival, but I'm giving them more of a chance than I would with poison or a gun.

I am told that you need to relocate at least two miles away, or else they'll find their way back. So a dozen squirrels, four miles (fifteen minutes) each. Whew.

My yard backs up to a raparian habitat, and I relocate them to similar habitats. Same creek, but farther downstream.

You need to check your local regulations. Mine allow relocating (but not poisons and guns), but not to private land without permission. I go to parks and greenbelts.

We'll see how long the relief lasts.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:13PM
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I'm thinking with that much open space around us, there's an endless supply. Seems like fencing would be easier.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:37PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

Well, that's not my point. I'm in an urban area, with miles of neighborhoods around us. There are ZILLIONS of squirrels in this neighborhood. But by relocating these squirrels as I did, which lived in my trees, the population near my house has dropped dramatically. For several months in a row. It worked. If squirrels moved freely, it would be like bailing the ocean. But they don't move freely.

Squirrels are territorial just like we are. I like my lot. I see no reason to move to the empty lot next to mine. At least, not for a while. The question is what the "dispersal rate" of the squirrels is. Evidently, it's less than an acre or so per month.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:48PM
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a Gamo pellet gun works on any height fence. It works on squirrels, coons, foxes, dogs, cats, and mockingbirds.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:13PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Mission Impossible Squirrel

Here is a link that might be useful: Mission Impossible Squirrel

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:24PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

Using guns or poison to kill squirrels is illegal in our state (not just the city). Using them on "fur-bearing animals" is legal, but squirrels are, by state statute, not fur-bearing animals. Go figure.

I just think of them as tree rats. Protected tree rats. Yes, rats can be cute too.

The problem with fencing is that it's just a pain in the rear for the gardener. Setting it up, working around it, sealing it off. It's easier to keep larger animals out with fencing than it is to keep squirrels out.

In some states, I believe that even trapping and relocating isn't legal. Check it out before you do it.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:52PM
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